During sleep, the brain network processes sensory stimuli without awareness. Stimulation must affect differently brain networks in sleep versus wake, but these differences have yet to be quantified. We recorded cortical activity in stage 2 (SII) sleep and wake using EEG while a tone was intermittently played. Zero-lag correlation measured input to pairs of sensors in the network; cross-correlation and phase-lag index measured pairwise corticocortical connectivity. Our analysis revealed that under baseline conditions, the cortical network, in particular the central regions of the frontoparietal cortex, interact at a characteristic latency of 50 ms, but only during wake, not sleep. Nonsalient auditory stimulation causes far greater perturbation of connectivity from baseline in sleep than wake, both in the response to common input and corticocortical connectivity. The findings have key implications for sensory processing.